Chicago State University

CSU Provost Named Vice Chair of Illinois Innovation Network

IIN aims to grow the economy through entrepreneurship, research and workforce development 

Dr. RoundtreeChicago, IL – The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) installed its inaugural slate of officers, approved bylaws and created working committees to address key statewide priorities during a Sept. 26 meeting of the IIN Council.  Chicago State University’s Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Leslie Roundtree was named vice chair of the IIN Council.

“The appointment of Dr. Roundtree as vice chair of the IIN Council is invaluable and fitting, considering her leadership and expertise in research, innovation and workforce development, said Zaldwaynaka Scott, President of Chicago State University.” 

The IIN is a group of 15 university-based hubs across the state that aims to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research, education and workforce development. The IIN Council is the governing body, comprising a representative from each hub.  Initial working committees created by the council will lead development of programs and initiatives in IIN’s core areas, and will serve as a conduit for the network’s hubs.

As an IIN hub, Chicago State University will create the Center for Solutions of Urban Populations, an incubator for pioneering ideas and transformative change. The center will include the physical renovation of 50,000 square feet of space and establishing programmatic, research, outreach and entrepreneurial activities to address some of the most challenging issues in the Chicago region. The center will address issues such as health and healthcare disparities, violence reduction and conflict resolution, pathways for success for challenged youth and ex-offenders, urban farming, entrepreneurship training in an urban setting, effective law enforcement practices in an urban setting, and food delivery and consumption in challenged neighborhoods.

“I look forward to collaborating with the IIN Council and committee members, “said Dr. Roundtree.  “Together we will provide access to cutting-edge technology and research statewide and support to a diverse community of entrepreneurs”.

Gerald C. Blazey, vice president for research and innovation partnerships at Northern Illinois University, was named chair of the IIN Council. Denise Cobb, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, was named secretary. Joseph A. Rives, senior vice president for strategic planning and initiatives at Western Illinois University, will serve as an at-large member on the IIN executive committee. Kyle Harfst, associate vice president for economic development and innovation for the U of I System, will be the IIN’s executive director. 

About Chicago State University

Chicago State University (CSU) is a public, comprehensive post-secondary institution that stands distinctively as one of the state’s oldest public universities, pro3viding access to higher education for students of diverse backgrounds and educational needs. Founded in 1867, CSU is a nationally accredited university with five colleges- Health Sciences, Arts and Science, Business, Education, and Pharmacy – offering 31 undergraduate and 25 graduate degree-granting programs. Consistently evolving to reflect state-of-the-art trends in higher education, CSU prepares students for success in the twenty-first century. For more information, please visit

About the Illinois Innovation Network

The Illinois Innovation Network is a statewide network of 15 university-based hubs that aims to grow the economy through entrepreneurship, research, and workforce development. The IIN will harness the strengths of Illinois’ universities to address gaps within communities and regional economies, working with industry and governmental partners to spark innovation, economic growth and prosperity.